History > Autonomous Republic
Autonomous Republic
      The Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (German: Autonome Sozialistische Sowjetrepublik der Wolgadeutschen, abbreviated A.S.S.R.W.D.; Russian: Автономная Советская Социалистическая Республика Немцев Поволжья) was an autonomous republic established in Soviet Russia, with its capital at the Volga port of Engels (until 1931 known as Pokrovsk) in 1918 following the Russian Revolution, by October 29 Decree of the Soviet government. It occupied the area of compact settlement of the large Volga German minority in Russia, which numbered almost 1.8 million by 1897. The republic was declared on 6 January 1924.
      During the Russian Civil War some Volga Germans enlisted with the White Army and, as a result, fierce attacks by the Red Army on Volga German communities took place. In the aftermath of the war, the famine that swept the U.S.S.R. took the lives of one third of the Volga German population. To the moment of declaration of the autonomy an amnesty was announced. However it eventually was applied to a small number of people. According to the politics of korenizatsiya, carried out in 1920s in the Soviet Union, usage of German language was promoted in official documents and Germans were encouraged to occupy management positions. According to the 1939 census, there were 366,685 ethnic Germans in the Republic.
      The following table shows population of the ethnic groups of the Volga German A.S.S.R.:
1926 census 1939 census
Germans 379,630 (66.4%) 366,685 (60.5%)
Russians 116,561 (20.4%) 156,027 (25.7%)
Ukrainians 68,561 (12.0%) 58,248 (9.6%)
Kazakhs 1,353 (0.2%) 8,988 (1.5%)
Tatars 2,225 (0.4%) 4,074 (0.7%)
Mordvins 1,429 (0.3%) 3,048 (0.5%)
Belarusians 159 (0.0%) 1,636 (0.3%)
Chinese 5 (0.0%) 1,284 (0.2%)
Jews 152 (0.0%) 1,216 (0.2%)
Poles 216 (0.0%) 756 (0.1%)
Estonians 753 (0.1%) 521 (0.1%)
Others 710 (0.1%) 3,869 (0.6%)
Total 571,754 606,352

      The German invasion of the Soviet Union (known in the former U.S.S.R. as the Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945) marked the end of the Volga German A.S.S.R. The Soviet government declared all Germans to be enemies of the state, which increased the persecution and fear of the Volga Germans among the general Russian populace. On August 28, 1941, Joseph Stalin issued a formal Decree of Banishment, which abolished the Volga German A.S.S.R. and exiled all Volga Germans to the Kazakh S.S.R. and Siberia.
      On 1 September 1941, mass evacuation was announced for the Volga Germans. Ten days later they began their forced deportation to Kazakhstan and Siberia.

Kantons (Districts)
      The Volga German A.S.S.R. was divided into fourteen cantons:

VG Kantons

VG Kantons by Name

      The following men served as political leaders of the Autonomous Volga German Republic:
1918-1918 Ernst Reuter
1919-1920 Hugo Schaufler
1920-1920 Alexander Dotz
1920-1921 Vasilyi Pakun
1921-1922 Alexander Moor
1922-1924 Wilhelm Kurz
1924-1930 Johannes Friedrich Schwab
1930-1934 Alexander Gleim
1934-1935 Heinrich Fuchs
1935-1936 Adam Welsch
1936-1937 Heinrich Luft
1937-1938 David Rosenberger
1938-1941 Konrad Hoffmann
- J. Otto Pohl, Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937-1949 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999): 19-37.
External Links
Last updated 16 April 2010.

Emblem of the Volga German Republic

The first known flag of the Volga German Republic was adopted in 1926. It was red flag with golden letters represent the Sozialistische Sowjetrepublik of Wolga Deutschen (SSRWD).

Additional information about VG-ASSR flags

Location of the Volga German Republic.

Detailed map of the Volga German Republic.

A 64 page booklet titled "Autonome Sozialistische Sowjetrepublik Der Wolgadeutschen" (Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic of the Volga Germans) published by the Deutscher Staatsverlag in Engels, Russia. The cost for the booklet in 1938 was 40 kopecks.

Map that outlines the indexing system for maps of this area.